GREAT question. Within the next two years I'm going to have to make this same disision... I found benefits to both... What are others opinions?
Non-profit or Profit? I cant make up my mind about this? I wish I had a partner to go profit.
GREAT question. Within the next two years I'm going to have to make this same disision... I found benefits to both... What are others opinions?
20 years ago when I was trying to buy this house (and had no money at all) several people suggested that I seek a partner, and one was suggested to me, a retired tradesman, a local man.
I approached him concerning this, he said that he would have to discuss it with his wife. She said , "No thanks."
I was So Lucky!
If I had this partner I am sure my efforts to make this place as unique as I have would have been an up-hill constant battle.
More risk, alot more work, everything took longer to get done, but I did it, I own it, the "buck" stops with me, if you like it or hate it, look to me.
As far as charity or for profit haunting?
I think this would greatly depend upon what you really want.
Profit versus Charity
With a for Profit event, you will be paying for the location, the physical haunt and it's realated equipment. Any help for set up, assembly, operating and tear down or moving to and from storage will be expected to be paid. This all implies you are able to pay someone right now if they walk up and say pay me.
With a charity, you may get a discount on all of the materials to build a haunt, volunteers will paint and assemble it, volunteers will act in it all as part of the fun component. You may with mentioning the storage company in advertising be able to get discounts on storage as it is for charity. The over all outlay can easily be off 60% of what the expense would be if you proclaim it to be for profit. Other people will gladly loan things you are short on.
Charity might be defined as giving anywhere from 10% to 80% to charities, either one or several. Chances are you will not be allowed to operate on community land unless it is for charity or somehow otherwise benefits the community. Operating on 20% is pretty much working for free and hoping to be able to pay the off season storage. But developing this on the job training of a crew is essencial. Although hard to put a dollar figure on it is being leveraged to develop a crew and have everything be routine in your area.
Operating a charity haunt allows the core people to learn the entire process until it is second nature and it is obvious that this could be done for money and you have the talent required and now the facilities. It also confirms who will be continueing and who will not. Charity events unless created by an organization as a fundraiser tend to fizzle out over a few years. Volunteers no longer want to volunteer, suppliers no longer like being weaseled for supplies, authorities begin looking at the cost of wear and tear on the facilities and weighing out how much damage was caused versus how much it really helped the community.
So down the road you have assembled the tools to operate a for profit haunt very inexpensively and have the talent required and gone through all the motions to make it a successful event. Further, there is little risk as all you have is the land lord to satisfy, the haunt is already paid for and the actors can be paid. If you have all the tools, you just go to work. If it is a "how are we going to do this thing" it will not be long lived when all the for profit bills come due and promises have been made.
Further you are both developing and seeing first hand what the market for a pro haunt is in a given area at a greatly reduced cost. No speculation.
is the transition form charity to profit haunt do-able? is there much complication?
I to would like to know if the change over is hard?
A couple of things. First of, keep in mind that there is a big difference between giving a portion of the proceeds to a charity (something I think haunts can and should do) and being a not for profit, legal/tax wise.
My opinion -- which is not worth a hell of a lot, I freely admit -- is that if your long term goal is to run a haunt and cover the cost and/or to support a charity, then it may be worth it to set up a not for profit. If your ultimate goal is to create a professional, for profit haunt, then form a for profit company and go that route from the beginning.
I believe that you will be risking a lot of good will in the community when they see that you have only been using the charity haunt to build a business for yourself.
There may also be some legal concerns about transitioning from a not for profit haunt to a for profit business. All those walls and props and equipment, built with donated labor and supplies, will not belong to you, but to the non-profit entity. Each state has rules for disposing of those items, but you may have to sell all of the equipment. You may be able to buy it yourself, but there are possible traps there as well. I would talk to an attorney in your state before going forward in such a plan (yeah, I know, I am always saying that).
I am all for charity haunts. I am a huge believer in giving part of the proceeds to charity. Strategic partnerships with charities can create win/win situations for everyone.
To me, however, you should not pretend to be something you are not. If you want to run a business, run a business. If you want to do something to benefit the community or a specific charity, do so. But don't pretend to be building one, while actually building the other.
Okay, I will get off the soapbox now. I hope that I have not offended too many of my friends here on the board.
This thread really cutts me down deep. I'm still trying to understand why anyone would want to be a charity haunt for business sake.
Doing anything for charity should come from the heart and soul. It should be a cause you believe in. Otherwise, why would you put so much work into it? Beginning a charity should not be used to benefit someone's business, but rather benefit those who have the special needs the charity is suppose to be setup for.
There are a lot of haunts in the industry who donate to charities and call themselves charity haunts, but that's not true. A true charity haunt is one that is setup, started and run by a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and all the proceeds go to their program(s) to benefit others.
Are there benefits to being a true charity haunt? Definitely. Is it easier? Nope!
ShadowBox Theatre Company
"We Scare Because We Care!"
In my specific case, my haunt is being used by a fire hall as a fund raiser. It isn't going to stop world hunger or cure some disease. It was a determined opportunity and they have the credentials to be a charity and do what ever their purposes for the funds many be. So it depends on your connection.
On the same token, it would be very simple (and the fire hall does otherwise make money) for them to decide to build their own facilities and send me packing. The other point of attrition would be that the current ages of the fire hall staff will become such in a decade that they decide it IS too much work for what it is bringing in or what damages it is doing to it's facility running the public though.
So it is likely that it has a limited time and several years later I am alone with a haunt that has been built up and have to find another opportunity or I may decide to donate the thing and opt out of all of the physical labor and storage charges (because of my age and physical condition) and go pro.
So wether this is the haunt I'm building or wether I will be building several for me later is all a level of comfort and capability, not some underhanded ploy to be something I am not.
I understand the plight and service this fire hall provides but have no intention of being a fire fighter or reporting to their board of directors.
It all depends on your prospective. I was building a haunt first and this is giving me the motivation to add about 1000sf per year and multiple haunts only because it has a purpose.
Going pro in my case is simply paying for a location, calling my advertising guru and going to work. And having all the stuff to set up.
If you are truely believing in a cause that you are willing to dedicate a decade or two of your life to, I have nothing but love for you. My situation is simply providing the community with better tools for the time being until they can provide for themselves or decide wether this "new" more pro approach is worthy the effort in this location.
The reality of my charity support is that I am taking $5,000 per year out of my non seasonal company and getting back $1000 which does not quite make the storage expense. If I did not have some other motive and felt so grand about giving, I would just go in there and hand them $4,000 every year and save a butt load of work.
Anyone wh has worked for a charity and provided the physical haunt or detailed scenes does it a very short time and I seem to hear the same complaints I have observed.
When setting this thing up and tearing it down I seem to be alone alot and it is alot of work and it is on a time table. The charity acts like they have hired a pro who is getting paid thousands of dollars for this service and they need not lift a finger. Twice now I have torn it down and taken it off with my own helper and the bigger it gets the more of a chore this is.
I will say in the last year they did help set up about 3/4 of the walls and I let them decorate it all having learned my lesson. I also got shorted $600 per customer coming through the door as it was some kind of promotion I did not agree upon before. And I have yet to achieve how much the storage costs out of ticket sales.
It is not yet what I would consider a super pro offering yet and may not be for several years. It is not magic. And when it is something to be proud of I will have to consider making my investment of all the years back.
We are talking very unproffesional here. Most charity offerings are real sorry to say unless they have been at it for 20 years and even then it is all set up to take advantage of people all in the name of fun. I get a phone call on September 1 st or 30th and am expected to deliver what ever they want and make it work for no profit and no prior input. I'm either amazing or a total fool.
Everyone here seems to think the later, as they are the ones who come help me retrieve our belongings when no one else shows up.
So basically know that working with charity is not really all that hunky dory and has not been for anone that has done it. I consider it a temporary step for your personal education and confidence, not the be all to end all.
Now, some grand old charities with proper world saving goals have been formed. For example Hangman's House of Horrors raises $350,000 per year for charity and it is a large attraction with many elements in Fort Worth Texas. Over the past decade Rocky Point has donated more than 500,000 to the Boys and Girls Club and several other charities.
We also have Reindeer Manor which benefits several Boy Scout troups and sees upwards of 25,000 people and has now 3 attractions. Perhaps developing youngsters is a grand goal.
But, that was never my intention. I wil have a pro haunted house that completely replaces my day business once I have everything to make it a success. Perhaps the firehall staff will have the opportunity to work one haunt at my permanent location if they do not replace me anyhow before hand.
And as I recall, Emperess was a little miffed last year at how difficult it all was and she was in charge of where the funds would eventually be going.
I would like to add that I am on some kind of goof ball personal mission. I don't make a lot of money and was told by an ex friend that I could not have a haunted house like I wanted because I have no money. Well, I'm out to prove him wrong.
The fact of the matter is if your income is $250,000 just give some of your money to charity. If you a billionare philanthropist, I hear you can hang out with Bono and Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie,Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and occasionally with Paul McCartney.
I think a lot of people are attracted to haunted hauses because it has a potential of making something from nothing. Not every one or maybe no one thought that for $40,000 and hauking anything of value you would be buying the Disney Haunted Mansion.
And in fact the true story I have found from personal interviews is that a great number of haunts began 20 years ago and the now succesful people were homeless, jobless and didn't know what to do. Jobs were demeening and non existant and charities were making money raising funds. I still to this day have not gotten a straight answer about what the Jaycees do with their money? So what is this organization? They have taught the community children and helpful adults to be suckers for a greater goal? So kids can go to camp and not go to the ghetto too early in life? What? So the town can have a big fire works display? Who gives a crap.
However, now 20 years plus down the line there are venues that are truely a specatacle and qualify as a neet evenings entertainment. It keeps kids off of Myspace for one freaking night out of the year. Who gives a crap again. So it must be the fun of haunting. The positive experience of providing an engaging and interactive show that both patrons and performers seem to fing exilerating.
On the bigger picture do you really think $4,000 would stop world hunger or buy a microbiologist's life to cure diseases that big corporations make billions of dollars providing medicine for? Will it stop global warming?
I think a majority of people attracted to haunted houses are trying to match the skills they have to something that will one day make money or at very least give a few weeks of annual emotional release. Or it is a seasonal job. How many people are going to their job for free?
How many people are trying to break from the total thing of having a job and are looking to have a business? Well, a lot of businesses are really jobs in disguise. People hire a service as they don't want to or can't do it themselves but outside of that one service call you are on your own.
The conditions to have a haunt that pays a salary require a lot and many of these factors are built over a decade of patron support, not a one night deal. A real haunted house of superb quality takes years to cultivate and like wise, the people engaged in it for either professional desired or for charity, have lots of dues to pay before it is a success.
The entire industry promotes people having grand ideas and ripping a mass of people off to achieve it's goals or be burned in it's failure. Attracting people with no means to be somebody someday with a seasonal event.
You can make it as complicated as you want. You can have a board of directors, youcan have legal status, CPA concensius, you can have $25,000 marketing studies, you can research the demographics. It comes down to being one job a year that could be considered a business. If it is a charity it means a lot of people will be giving up hard earned and limited funds to achieve a goal. It isn't a real smart goal unless at some point the made money is more than was put into it. This takes time.
At one of the diners, Leonard reaffirmed to me, you know if you don't make any money you can't play. Bullshit, if I want to spend what little money I have rather than go on vacation or buying a fishing boat, that is my personal preference. Currently the materials are either a donation or a tax write off to my regular business. If I didn't do the haunt I would be giving that money to the government and THEY would be telling me how it was spent or wasted.
So when you are young do you really have the knowledge to dig down into your soul and understand how things work? I would suggest maybe the peace corps if you are a giving soul and don't know how to apply your back muscles and you could always write a book or two later to supplimnet your trust fund.
Quite simply haunted houses are poor people. If you have alll kinds of money get into real estate or laundromats. And so a person does what they must do. Setting up 3,000 SF means several chiropractic visits for me.
Poor people have worked themselves to death doing this and injured themselves from over work over and over. Poor people can only afford to give so much. So, having a charity haunt will show you just how giving your community really is, who will and won't lend a hand. Its a temporary situation at some point wether you have a legal non profit charity status or not. There is a check box on that form that says "no longer active" Which translates into: I discovered I am too poor to do all of this for free and no longer wish to abuse myself any further but, now I know what I'm doing and will do it for money.
There is no true helping out here in my town. There is no wanting to know your neighbor and having a haunted event will bring every kind of "you go with that" that is available. It is a tough road. If you are going to give the money away for the next 20 years I will be glad to help in any way I can as long as it doesn't cost me money to post here.
I'm poor. I work like a slave even though I "own a company" and I'm helping the community in my limited way. What do they do with the money? They are scrapping people off of the hiways in great number because they were judgment impaired or pulling them out of their house that caught fire because they couldn't maintain their house. Poor people helping poor people. It could solve world hunger if they would feed the crash victims to others who had nothing to eat?
So being poor and having the responsibility of storing a bunch of stuff that fills 6,000 Sf, who are you Paris Hilton to have so much stuff? You better have an alternate plan. An alternate goal. This isn't like a little storage garage of old couches that the dog peed on, you missed a storage payment on and they sold it out of your storage garage.
If you read my blog, I go into detail My first haunt cost $475 and made $4210 for the charity. My second year cost was about $1600 and made more than $5,670
I hear stories that first time pro haunts cost $10,000 and made $8,000 the first year. I hear $10,000 to start and made $30,000. But, I'm poor. I really should have bought a better pick up truck for work or replaced this 1968 TV set with coat hangers for an antenna and a loud hum coming from the speakers. Instead I helped the firehall raise money. I could have had a satellite connection instead of dial up.
It is also my goal that if you are retarded or illiterate you don't need to be on these boards and fascinated with helping the community, you will have enough problems taking care of yourself as I apparently do.
But, see everyone will say they have income of great proportions and it isn't a problem. Everyone will say they have all these highly developed skills and goals and they really understand how making money will change the world. They really don't know but do it any how. They are really poor but aren't about to let that be known. Their haunted houses all see 15,000 people and would like ideas on how to see more. They don't.
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